Proofreading tips

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In today’s world of increasing communication and online interaction, more people than ever before can contribute their ideas, share their opinions, or promote themselves and their business on the Internet. Unfortunately, as technological developments like cell phones and social networking unfold, the proper use of grammar and spelling dwindles. Whether it’s a post on someone’s Facebook wall or a comment on a blog entry or news article, the “voice” of the common man, while heard, is not likely to be respected when it is pitted with poor spelling and grammar.

Sadly, these blunders have grown to include business communications, such as emails and websites. A piece of writing represents the writer; if it is unprofessionally done, the reader must draw his or her conclusions about the professionalism of the writer. So before you hit “send,” “publish,” “share,” or “print,” stop a moment and recall that what you write reflects on you. In other words, proofread your work. Here are a few tips that can help

If you’re writing something that’s extremely important, as in it could impact your career or grade in school, print it first. It’s easier to find mistakes on paper than it is on your computer screen. Consider reading it aloud, reading it backward, or having another person read it; these are all great ways to detect errors. You may even want to hire a freelance copy editor or proofreader if the writing is widely distributed.

Even if you aren’t writing something vital to your career, you should still check your Facebook post or tweet for these common mistakes: homonyms, contractions and apostrophes, and general punctuation and spelling. Homonyms are words that sound the same but are spelled differently. Typical mistakes are “there” for “their” or “they’re;” “to” for “too;” “except” for “accept;” “compliment” for “complement;” and so on. Apostrophe placement (or lack thereof) is another frequent error. “Your” does not mean “you are,” but “you’re” does. And “car’s” does not mean more than one car! Punctuation and spelling are the tricky parts if the grammar isn’t your strong point. But often you’ll find mistakes simply if you reread what you wrote. Spell check can help with spelling–and so can an online dictionary! (Don’t ignore the squiggly red lines; they do mean something).
Don’t damage your credibility–or that of your business–by writing sloppily. Have you ever considered doing a course in Proof Reading and Editing, so you too can learn the editing tricks of the trade? Don’t fall prey to those horrible mistakes that can all too easily be made.
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